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Google doubles down on native app experiences with Gboard, Chirp and Translate

Google puts high value in mobile user experience.

The truthfulness of that statement can be tracked back as far Google’s first .mobi website 10 years ago, or when it launched the first iteration of its Android operating system in 2008.

But 2016 marks a year of Google making even greater strides in expanding upon this philosophy.

Between Google AMP rolling out in February and the recent announcement of an update to its mobile-friendly algorithm for May, the company’s overarching goal seems to be to deliver more relevant content at a faster rate in as many places as possible.

It’s not a mobile-first strategy, it’s a Google-everywhere strategy.

Over the last few days alone, the company made a trio of announcements that will likely shake up the mobile landscape and help increase Google’s mobile market share.

They were the release of Gboard, the announcement of Chirp, and functionality updates for Google Translate.

Gboard: How Google found its way back into iOS

On May 12, Google introduced Gboard, which is a Google-branded keyboard for Apple products. It offers additional functionality that the default iOS keyboard does not– including drag/swipe-to-text (a la SwiftKey and Swype) and a native search function. The latter is a very big deal.

In 2013, Google’s contract to be the default search provider for Apple devices expired, and Bing was the resulting beneficiary, powering both Siri and Safari results. Sure enough, Google’s mobile search engine market share dropped significantly that year, and only recently returned to the 90% mark in the US (in November 2015):

mobile search stats

But with GBoard, Google bypasses default search engine settings entirely, allowing users to perform searches without ever leaving the text box. Consider it Google’s Trojan horse back into Apple Devices, without all the negative connotations.

After testing GBoard for the majority of the day, I was hooked. It’s highly functional and removes the need to switch apps in order to Google something.

For example, if I’m planning dinner in WhatsApp, I can hit the Google icon, perform a search for a restaurant name, and then paste the local result directly into the text box (either as text or as a location card). All of this is done without leaving the messaging app. You can also search GIFs and emojis, so it’s not all business.

An example of how it works from Google’s blog:

The implications on search marketing and user behaviors are significant.

Gboard completely changes the role that mobile search plays in text-based conversations. Much like Android devices that feature a search box front and center, Gboard now integrates search into almost all app experiences on iOS. Anywhere you can type, you can also search.

At the moment, it’s unclear how these impressions and shares will be calculated (if at all). But I imagine with enough adoption, this can take a chunk out of Bing mobile searches on iOS as well as mobile impressions/clicks.

Furthermore, this drives home the need for brands and websites to have mobile-optimized experiences. Combined with the May 2016 mobile algorithm update, ranking #1 on mobile is more important than ever.

Of course, since this is Google we’re talking about, this is also an opportunity for paid search placements and location-based ads. If Google goes that route, they will have to toe a fine line between user experience and monetization.

The power of Voice

Speaking of analytics, Google’s John Mueller recently intimated that voice searches may soon become an available metric in Google Search Console.

With the wide adoption of virtual/AI assistants (like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and most recently, Viv), it makes sense that voice searches are on the rise.

Google’s Hummingbird update in 2013 placed a focus on “conversational” queries, evidence of the shift in how users search on mobile. Not quantifying voice searches would leave a big hole in the consumer journey, as 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a task, a stat reported by Google themselves.

It’s probably also no coincidence that a few days later, Google announced that it was working a competitor to Amazon Echo, codenamed Chirp. This isn’t Google’s first foray into the connected home space (they purchased Nest, after all), but this is their first hardware solution dedicated to search (if you don’t count the ill-fated experiment that was Google Glass).

Ultimately, Google has the most robust search data and arguably the best algorithm for user experience, so they’re poised to gain market share within the connected home and voice search fields, even if they’re second to market.

Google Translate anywhere (for Android)

The third recent announcement was expanded functionality for Google Translate in Android devices. Similar to Gboard functionality, users no longer have to switch over to the Google Translate app to figure out what something means, or how to say something in a different language.

The most recent update includes a floating “Tap to Translate” button that allows users to bring up Translate functionality in any Android app.

With 65% market share worldwide, Google is wise to cater to that growing international audience.

global stats

In the same update, Google also announced offline mode for iOS as well as an augmented reality visual translation, making it an indispensable tool for travelers. Even without internet access, Google is providing value with its apps.


In summary

These three announcements by themselves are big news, but when you pull back and look at the bigger picture, it really tells the story of Google’s mobile end goal – to integrate their services with all aspects of daily life.

Gboard brings search into mobile conversations. Chirp will potentially bring Google into the home. And Translate will allow people from all over the world to better communicate.

Google is devoting a lot of resources into positioning itself as a native part of the mobile experience, rather than just an add-on. And so far, they have a pretty solid roadmap.

View full post on Search Engine Watch

General Motors flags down Lyft to start taxi trial


General Motors and Lyft want prototype autonomous taxis on the road by the end of the year, a preliminary step for the ride-sharing company in swapping human drivers with a machine.

GM has spent $1.5 billion on the program so far – $500 million as the lead investor in Lyft’s funding round and $1 billion to acquire San Francisco-based Cruise Automation, which provides the self-driving system that will be installed inside prototype cars.

See Also: Can self-driving cars run your town’s transit system

Lyft will trial the program in an unknown city and use GM cars to test the autonomous features, according to WSJ. Customers will be able to opt-in or out of the program from the mobile app.

It will be the first autonomous test that uses the public as testers, which may alarm regulators that don’t currently condone public use of driverless vehicles. Google, Uber, and Tesla have all run trials in California, Pittsburgh and Michigan, but always in a controlled environment with members of the press and the public.

Lyft playing catch-up?

Uber has already poached key executives from Ford and Google’s self-driving team, showing it places a big emphasis on autonomous cars for the future of its service. Lyft came a little late to the party, but the deal with GM makes it a key player in the rise of automotive automation, and makes the rivalry between Uber even more tenacious.

GM isn’t just looking at the self-driving side of the deal, it wants Lyft drivers to lease or purchase cars through a program set up in Chicago, which will expand to more cities later this year. The Chevrolet Equinox is the car currently available for drivers, though GM is expected to add the Bolt to the list of choices to get more electric cars on the road.

A few traditional carmakers are starting to partner with a tech company, almost as a security for the automotive future. Fiat Chrysler recently announced a partnership to provide Google more autonomous cars.

Tesla and Uber are still lone warriors in the battle, though the latter is a partner of Baidu, who has its own self-driving car. Tesla has shown no signs of wanting to enter the taxi market, so it might become a partner for a new ride hailing app in the future.

The post General Motors flags down Lyft to start taxi trial appeared first on ReadWrite.

View full post on ReadWrite

Why are my earnings down right now?

Four things to explore if your AdSense earnings take a dip

Today we’d like to share some insights about why AdSense earnings sometimes go down — and look at how to troubleshoot what’s going on when that happens. Google has a variety of tools and reports that will help you see what might be causing a decline and how you can respond to optimize your earnings.

One of the first things to consider is: have your overall page views gone down, or are other issues causing the drop? There are many factors that affect revenue, but the key ones to look at include:

  • Clickthrough rate (CTR)
  • Cost per click (CPC)
  • Page revenue per thousand impressions (page RPM)
  • Page views

You can view all these metrics on the Performance reports tab in your AdSense account. Here are a few tips on how to address issues you may discover.

1. My page views have decreased

When troubleshooting changes in page views, it’s a good idea to extend the date range of your reports out to 30 days or more to help identify trends or specific issues. A drop in page views could simply be seasonal; retailers, for instance, tend to see a traffic drop after the holiday season. But a decrease can also be due to a change in your content.

If your traffic has dropped, here are some ways you might increase it:

  • Promote your site with other major sites that cover the same topics.
  • Promote your site through social media, and create a group of interested people who regularly visit your site.
  • Use Google Search Console to make sure your site is being correctly crawled and indexed.
  • Update your site regularly to encourage repeat visitors. You might also want to send out an email or a newsletter about your updates.

2. My cost per click has decreased

CPC is market-driven and depends on factors like advertiser bids on keywords and the CPC values they’re willing to pay. For example, CPC can fall at the beginning of each quarter when marketers are shifting budget. When looking at changes in CPC, it’s a good practice to extend the date range of your reports out to a year. Then:

  • See if you’re using the best-performing ad sizes. Generally, our most successful sizes for CPC and CTR are 720×90, 336×280, 160×600, and the 320×100 mobile banner. Learn more about the most successful ad sizes.
  • Make sure you’re not blocking ads you don’t need to. Blocks on too many advertisers, ad networks, general or sensitive categories will often decrease CPC because there are fewer advertisers in the auction bidding on your inventory. The more inventory your site has access to, the greater the chance that auction pressure will drive up your CPC.
  • Look at how seasonality can affect your advertisers’ bids. For instance, swimsuit advertisers often increase their bids in the early weeks of summer. But if your site caters only to students, you should expect traffic to fall in the summer. Learn more about how the ad auction works for a clearer understanding of how these kinds of changes can impact your earnings.

3. My search rank has dropped

Deeper investigation may show you that your page is not ranked as highly in search results as it once was. The Webmaster Troubleshooter is designed to help you resolve common issues with your site in Google Search and the Google Search Console.

4. My CTR or page RPM has decreased

A drop in CTR or page RPM can be caused by confusing site design or poor targeting. Visitors who see your ads might not click on them because they find them irrelevant, or perhaps they don’t see your ads at all. And that leads to lower earnings.

Here are some best practices to help drive up your CTR and page RPM:

We hope these tips will help you understand exactly what’s happening on your site ― and send your earnings back in the right direction.

Posted by Rachel Barrett

Google AdSense Team

View full post on Inside AdSense

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